Five Superstar Programmers

Seattle Web Design
computer programming languages
8 min readMar 4, 2024

1883, the first programming language is developed. Working on a primitive mechanical computer, the Analytical Engine, Ada Lovelace could distinguish the importance of numbers. Lovelace recognized that numbers could be regarded as more than just a numerical value. Ada Lovelace wrote an algorithm to be used on the Analytical Engine with the power to compute Bernoulli numbers. This was deemed the first computer program.

What is programming?

So, what is programming? Programming is the technological process of telling a computer what tasks it needs to execute to solve problems. Programming is a partnership between humans and computers; in this partnership, humans will develop a set of instructions for the computer. The instructions the human develops are written in a language meant for the computer, a language the computer can understand.

What is programming capable of?

Currently, programming is all around us and can do so many things. Programming provides us with interactive websites, computer games, mobile apps, statistical analysis of analytical or research assignments, and building and maintaining large databases. Furthermore, programming can also turn repetitive tasks into automated tasks. For example, sending timed emails, posting on social media, and controlling lights or thermostats. Programming also gives us video games and creates a more accessible world with digital assistants, voice commands, and public accessibility for those with mental or physical disabilities. Space travel and exploration have also been greatly supported by computer programming. NASA has begun to use Python to learn more about our universe and the planet by processing data they have collected. Also, NASA has used Python to detect compounds, collect data, and estimate surrounding radiation levels.

Overview of programming languages.

There are two programming languages: high-level and low-level programming. High-level programming is defined as being object-oriented and procedural. High-level programming languages are easier for humans to understand because they contain many symbols, phrases, and letters. Low-level programming languages are written in assembly and machine language; machine languages are written in binary code; assembly language is documented in a human-readable machine language representation. Programming high-level languages are Python, JavaScript, BASIC, Delphi, Perl, PHP, C#, and Java. C, C++, assembly, and FORTRAN are programming languages considered low-level.

Advantages and disadvantages

What are some advantages of high-level programming? High-level languages often feature a syntax written in English, which helps beginners take to those languages quickly. A high-level programming language will also enhance the user’s productivity with a more efficient and readable language. Another advantage would be portability. Low-level languages are not usually portable across different platforms like high-level ones. Some disadvantages of programming with a high-level language would be the user needs more control over the hardware, the computer’s resources, and intense resource consumption. When an application has been written in a high-level programming language, it can consume several system resources, such as memory and processing power.

The advantages of low-level programming are the high efficiency, direct hardware interaction, and smaller code size. High efficiency is an advantage of low-level programming because they are more efficient in speed and memory usage. Programming with a smaller code size can be highly beneficial in circumstances with limited storage space. Some disadvantages of programming with low-level languages are difficulty in comprehension, time consumption, little flexibility, and increased chance of error. Low-level languages require an extensive understanding of the hardware design, making code comprehension difficult. Writing a program in low-level languages will need more time and labor. Also, low-level programs are written with a particular architecture and often cannot be transferred to different platforms. Low-level languages have direct access to memory and hardware, making errors a higher risk as they can lead to system failures.

John Backus

https://www.azquotes.com/quote/765059

Jumping to 1957, computer programmer John Backus developed the language FORTRAN (formula translation), marking a significant step in developing computer programming language. The FORTRAN language was used for engineering, scientific, and statistical equations. FORTRAN shortened the programming process, which made computer programming more approachable. Before the creation of FORTRAN, programming was written in machine or assembly language, requiring the programmer to write code in binary or use hexadecimal arithmetic, a way to count that uses 16 different symbols after numbers 0–9.

Grace Hopper

https://news.yale.edu/2017/02/10/grace-murray-hopper-1906-1992-legacy-innovation-and-service

Grace Hopper proposed the idea of writing programs in words instead of using symbols. With hard work and persistence, she and her team created the first English-language compiler to use word commands, and in 1956, she was running FLOW-MATIC. FLOW-MATIC used everyday English words and was developed for processing data. Hopper’s dedication to developing word-based programming languages was instrumental in expanding the computer community. Hopper made computers accessible to people without any engineering or math background. This was around when computer companies were marketing their computers to the private sector. With her development of word-based programs, Hopper believed accessibility would help people feel comfortable using computers for business applications, such as payroll. By 1959, the need for standardized business language was increasing. Hopper took part in developing COBOL, a “common business-oriented language,” by designing the language. By 1970, COBOL was the world’s most extensively used computer language.

Margaret Hamilton

https://www.vox.com/2015/5/30/8689481/margaret-hamilton-apollo-software

In 1969, Margaret Hamilton was the head of a team of scientists tasked with developing the software for guidance and control systems of the in-flight command and lunar modules of the Apollo missions. During this time, only some schools taught software engineering, meaning she and her team members had to work out any problems independently. So, Margaret Hamilton created the term “software engineer.” She did this because she felt her and her team’s work was just as important as just as much as any other engineer on the Apollo spacecraft. Hamilton took on detecting system errors and information recovery herself. Her work was crucial in taking astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the Moon. In 2003, Margaret Hamilton earned NASA’s Exceptional Space Act Award, and in 2016, President Barack Obama granted her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Bill Gates

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/microsoft/windows/11817065/Twenty-years-ago-Microsoft-launched-Windows-95-changing-the-world.html

At the young age of 13, he wrote his first software program. He and a group of programmers he gathered worked to computerize their high school staff’s payroll system. In 1975, Bill Gates and his friend Paul Allen developed the software for the first microcomputers. They adapted the popular programming language used on large computers, to be used on microcomputers, that language was BASIC. Together, they founded the company Microsoft. Bill Gates had great control over the young microcomputer industry when he licensed the operating system MS-DOS to IBM for use on the first microcomputer, the IBM PC, released in 1981. MS-DOS dominated the competing operating systems as IBM set the standard for the personal computer industry and became reliant on Bill Gates for his software.

Mark Zuckerberg

https://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/03/technology/from-earliest-days-zuckerberg-focused-on-controlling-facebook.html

Mark Zuckerberg was the co-founder and CEO of Facebook. Zuckerberg launched thefacebook.com in 2004, which began as a directory for Harvard students to upload photos and information into a template Zuckerberg had developed. Just two weeks after the launch, half of the Harvard student body has signed up for thefacebook.com. With the help of his roommates, he added features to make thefacebook.com accessible to other campuses around the country. In 2005 thefacebook.com was renamed to Facebook, and soon after opened its registration to foreign colleges and high-school students, by 2006 anyone who had access to an email account could sign up for Facebook. After making strides in the social media world, Facebook changed the name of its parent company in 2021 to Meta Platforms, introducing users’ ability to interact in virtual reality. As of today, Meta Platforms is worth 1.21 trillion USD.

Current trends in programming

Some new developments in the programming world are low code and no code development, artificial intelligence and machine learning, domain-specific languages, and declarative programming. Low code and no code development allow users to develop software applications without writing code, making software development more accessible and leading to new programming languages. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are now used to create new programming languages. Furthermore, domain-specific languages (DSLs) were designed to carry out specific tasks or domains, anywhere from web development to machine learning. DSLs are more compact and demonstrative, making them more efficient use for particular tasks. Lastly, declarative programming is a type of development that allows programmers to specify what they need the program to do instead of telling it how to execute. Declarative programming makes development more straightforward, easier to understand, and more efficient.

Future of programming

A few emerging technologies and their future of programming are blockchain, quantum computing, and the Internet of Things. Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology developed to create a safe and tamper-proof record of transactions. Programming languages have begun to adjust to support blockchain in applications. Furthermore, quantum computing can use the power of quantum mechanics to solve problems that are too complex for a classic computer, which is still in early development. Lastly, the Internet of Things is a network of physical objects embedded with software, networks, and sensors. Network connectivity allows physical objects to collect and share data, beginning with smart devices such as thermostats. Technologists are imagining intelligent cities.

Final Thoughts

Programming has many depths and applications in our world. We learned what programming is, different programming languages and categories, advantages and disadvantages, current programming trends, and what the future of programming may have in store. Programming has real impacts as Grace Hopper with FLOW-MATIC and COBOL, Margaret Hamilton and her work on the Apollo missions and spacecraft, John Backus with the development of FORTRAN, Bill Gates creating Microsoft, Mark Zuckerberg developing Facebook; developments that have changed the world we know today. Being a programmer has unlimited potential, from a worldwide social media impact to landing on the moon. It is exciting to think about what programming will do for us next.

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